A program of observations of lunar occultations in the near infrared was started at the TIRGO observatory in late 1985. After ten years of operation, we provide a list of all the events recorded up to the end of 1995 using the facility IR photometer. A total of 157 light curves were obtained, mostly aiming at measurements of angular diameters and binaries, with a total of 54 results in these fields. We use this database to investigate and discuss quantitatively the performance of the technique, in particular with respect to the limiting angular resolution, the limiting magnitude, the influence of the background and the probability of detection of a binary star under different conditions of observation. For the most important of these quantities, the limiting angular resolution φR, we find a dependence on the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) that, within experimental errors, has the form of a power law. We also recognize and discuss the role played by the sampling time and scintillation effects. Finally, we describe briefly the fast photometric mode implemented in the TIRGO facility IR array-detector camera, which since late 1995 is also used routinely to record lunar occultations.